The exponential importance of early math skills
by Amanda Dunaway, MSDE, CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd
Math is a system for representing what we can experience and imagine with symbols (numbers, shapes, operations, etc.). It is a way to communicate information and ideas. Basic math skills are a necessity to function in our society. Higher math skills led to a deeper understanding of our world. Language, social interaction, motor skills, cognitive skills, sensory experience and executive function all play a role in the early development of mathematical skills. Through play and exploration, children begin to understand the language and concepts of mathematics.
The results of the well-cited study School Readiness and Later Achievement (Duncan, et al., 2007) found early math concepts such as number knowledge and ordinality to be the most powerful predictors of later learning. For the child who is deaf/hard of hearing, a concerted effort must be made to include the development of these skills in early childhood education and therapy. A study by Pagliaro and Kritzer (2013) suggests that a “math gap” is present in children who are deaf/hh prior to formal schooling and appears to widen with age. Fortunately, the opportunity to practice these skills already exists in the early childhood classroom and therapy environment.
By utilizing math talk while engaging in math-related experiences toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners build a robust understanding of math which will be the foundation for their formal math education.
Take a look at the following graphic which shows a snapshot of the Missouri Learning Standards at varying grade levels. As you can see, the language and vocabulary acquired during the early childhood years lay the foundation for future math education.